I just turned down a blogging job on another site because the compensation (in trades, yet – not even money) was ludicrously low. So low I can’t even in good conscience refer anyone to that client. As an editor trying hard to make money so I can pay my writers a fair wage (not happening yet, gah, sorry writers) this was, frankly, insulting. The client said they’d made some big improvements to their infrastructure this year so they had to save money somewhere. But…but…they are only paying bloggers in trade for services – stuff that basically costs them nothing.
I politely declined, and the client responded kindly but with a little dig, “we have plenty of people interested so no worries.” I just bet you do. Lots of people THINK they want to blog for freebies; very few people actually get the job done. A good blogger, one that posts regularly, brings in an audience, promotes posts, and – get this – even WRITES WELL is pretty hard to find. Trust me, I look all the time. I’ve found a few for this site and I’d really like them to get paid so I’m working on selling advertising and all that fun money making stuff.
But the obstacle is that bloggers aren’t seen as having value yet. Why? Because there are so many people allegedly willing to do it for peanuts for companies who can afford to pay them. When you see a blogger compensation package that is laughable, the joke is on you because some starry eyed person somewhere will be willing to take on the project. Sure, they may or may not post more than once, their grammar might be atrocious, and their writing mediocre at best, but it seems that many clients are looking for quantity and care little for the quality.
A good blog campaign can be a solid winner for a business, especially in the outdoors industry where everyone’s falling all over themselves to boast about what they did or what picture they took or about what a siiiiiick day they had or how how cool their POV camera is. But some companies just don’t get it. They think bloggers are throwaway and they treat them as such. Then their blog, quite frankly, sucks, and they continue thinking that since their blog kind of sucks then that must mean that bloggers really are just throwaway.
But this post is directed more at bloggers than at companies. Companies can be a little stodgy and social-media-inept, we know that. But please, please, bloggers – when writing for a for-profit company, whether it be a magazine, an event, a recreation area, whatever – do everyone a favor and insist on a fair wage. This is why we need a union. Or an association. Or SOMETHING. As long as there are people willing to give free stuff to big, profit-making companies, whether that free stuff be writing, time, free posting of logos, whatever – blogging will never go anywhere serious and we’ll all just be competing with each other for scraps. Those scraps being giveaways, press trips, and the right to “graduate” from blogging and write for a “real” publication which will undoubtedly start you at the bottom, writing two-sentence “gear reviews” and lists of “top five amazing outdoorsy towns you should plan a vacation in this year or next or whenever you can finally afford it which won’t be until that town is no longer on our list” or whatever fluff they need to use to fill their pages. A decade of that and you might get a feature. Maybe.
Let’s get real. No one will take the advice in this post. Everyone wants free stuff, even big profit making companies. I just wanted to vent. To sum up, companies, pay bloggers a decent wage. Bloggers, don’t take anything but a decent wage. I remember seeing Backcountry.com hiring for a blogger. The pay was about $30K/year. Now that’s a decent wage for a blogger, if it’s true. Good for Backcountry.com. Now, if only they’d buy some ads so I can pay the people who write for this site. It’s just a big vortex of no one getting paid, isn’t it?
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